College Football Picks: Oregon at Washington State Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 9/27/2012
The No. 2 Oregon Ducks are again featured in the final kickoff of the night this Saturday in college football. It appeared last week’s game vs. Arizona would be an offense shootout between spread-option teams, but Oregon dominated the Wildcats. This week’s matchup vs. Washington State also could be very high-scoring, but the Cougars run the “Air Raid” that new coach Mike Leach made famous at Texas Tech.
It’s rare you will talk about Oregon’s defense, but that was the story in last Saturday’s 49-0 victory over Arizona in the school’s first Pac-12 shutout in nine years. The Cats had been averaging 605 yards of offense and 46 points but managed just 322 against Oregon and couldn’t score a point despite six red-zone trips. The Ducks actually didn’t play all that well offensively. They were up only 13-0 at the half and had 495 yards of offense, which is low for Oregon. They also turned the ball over three times.
Washington State gagged away its first Pac-12 win a week ago in losing, 35-34, to a very bad Colorado team – Wazzu was up 31-14 midway through the fourth quarter. Washington State just can’t run the ball as it had 22 attempts for 50 yards vs. the Buffs. So QB Connor Halliday threw it 60 times (second-most in school history), completing 32 for 401 yards and four touchdowns but also two interceptions.
This is Oregon’s first road game of the season, but it’s not a true road game. Wazzu has played one game a season in Seattle for a decade and this is it, at the Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field. It’s the first time these schools have met in Seattle.
Oregon at Washington State Betting Storylines
Halliday has taken over for injured starter Jeff Tuel and will start again here barring something unforeseen. Halliday probably keeps the job regardless considering he’s a sophomore and will be around for a few more years while Tuel is a senior. Halliday has averaged 389.5 passing yards in two starts this season, but those are against two of the nation’s worst teams (UNLV being the other). The Ducks are allowing 267.3 ypg through the air.
The problem with passing the ball all the time is that incompletions slow the game down, and the last thing Washington State wants is for Oregon to get more possessions. Wazzu ranks second-to-last in the nation at 59.0 rushing yards per game, so it won’t be able to eat the clock. And the Cougars have allowed more first downs than any Pac-12 team. That’s not a good thing vs. the Ducks.
Wazzu has been solid so far against the run, allowing 127.0 per game, but obviously hasn’t seen anything like De’Anthony Thomas or Kenjon Barner. Behind that duo, Oregon ranks seventh in the country at 303.8 rushing ypg. Thomas is still in the Heisman conversation because he’s the nation’s most electric player, but he’s not getting enough touches. Against Arizona he had only 14 total on offense, and that was a season high. Thomas is still tied for the NCAA lead with eight all-purpose plays of 30 or more yards and is tied for third with seven touchdowns.
Oregon might even let freshman QB Marcus Mariota air it out a bit this week. Wazzu is third-from-last in the country in allowing 344.5 passing yards per game. Mariota is completing nearly 70 percent of passes for 934 yards, 10 TDs and only two interceptions. He’s second in the Pac-12 in efficiency.
For what it’s worth, Washington State is 5-4 when playing at CenturyLink Field (formerly Qwest Field). Last season, the Cougars were crushed there, 44-21, by Oregon State. Oregon has won five straight and seven of eight vs. Wazzu. The five straight wins have been by at least 15 points, and Oregon has scored at least 43 points each time. Last year the Ducks won only 43-28 in Eugene in a bit of a sandwich game. Thomas had two long scores for Oregon, a 45-yard TD catch and a 93-yard kickoff return. Obviously, Mariota didn’t play in that game and neither did Halliday.
Oregon at Washington State Betting Odds and Trends
The Ducks are 30.5-point favorites, according to college football odds, with the total at 73.5 on 5Dimes. Oregon is 1-3 ATS this season and 1-2 “over/under”. Washington State is 0-3-1 ATS and 2-1 O/U.
Oregon is 4-0 ATS in its past four road games. The Ducks are 1-4-1 ATS in their past six following a win by at least 20 points. Washington State is 2-5 ATS in its past seven after a loss. The over is 4-0 in Oregon’s past four after an ATS win. The over is 5-2 in WSU’s past seven conference games. The over is 7-2 in the past nine meetings. The home team has covered five of the past seven.
Oregon at Washington State Predictions and College Football Picks
Should be fun, for a quarter or two, to see Chip Kelly and Leach face off for the first time with quite different offensive approaches. But there’s simply no way that Wazzu’s defense, No. 101 overall, can slow Oregon. I mean, Colorado put up 35! Maybe if this game was in Pullman the Cougars could cover, but there could easily be more Ducks fans in the stands in Seattle on Saturday. And the weather looks nice, so that won’t help Washington State, either. Take Oregon and the under.
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